The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition - Vol. 1 (of 25)
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The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition - Vol. 1 (of 25)


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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson Swanston Edition, by Robert Louis Stevenson This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition Vol. 1 (of 25) Author: Robert Louis Stevenson Commentator: Andrew Lang Release Date: June 6, 2007 [EBook #21686] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK WORKS OF R.L. STEVENSON *** Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Marcia Brooks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at THE WORKS OF ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON SWANSTON EDITION VOLUME I Of this SWANSTON EDITION in Twenty-five Volumes of the Works of ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON Two Thousand and Sixty Copies have been printed, of which only Two Thousand Copies are for sale. This is No. 1678 AN INLAND VOYAGE TITLE-PAGE DESIGNED BY MR. WALTER CRANE THE WORKS OF ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ANDREW LANG VOLUME ONE LONDON: PUBLISHED BY CHATTO AND WINDUS: IN ASSOCIATION WITH CASSELL AND COMPANY LIMITED: WILLIAM HEINEMANN: AND LONGMANS GREEN AND COMPANY MDCCCCXI ALL RIGHTS RESERVED CONTENTS PAGE INTRODUCTION TO THE SWANSTON EDITION D EDICATION PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION AN INLAND VOYAGE ANTWERP TO BOOM ON THE WILLEBROEK C ANAL 7 11 THE R OYAL SPORT N AUTIQUE AT MAUBEUGE ON THE SAMBRE C ANALISED: TO QUARTES PONT-SUR-SAMBRE: WE ARE PEDLARS THE TRAVELLING MERCHANT ON THE SAMBRE C ANALISED: TO LANDRECIES AT LANDRECIES SAMBRE AND OISE C ANAL: C ANAL BOATS THE OISE IN FLOOD ORIGNY SAINTE-BENOÎTE: A BY-DAY THE C OMPANY AT TABLE D OWN THE OISE: TO MOY LA FÈRE OF C URSED MEMORY D OWN THE OISE: THROUGH THE GOLDEN VALLEY N OYON C ATHEDRAL D OWN THE OISE: TO C OMPIÈGNE AT C OMPIÈGNE C HANGED TIMES D OWN THE OISE: C HURCH INTERIORS PRÉCY AND THE MARIONNETTES BACK TO THE WORLD EPILOGUE 16 21 26 31 36 41 46 50 55 62 68 74 79 84 86 91 94 99 105 111 120 122 TRAVELS WITH A DONKEY IN THE CEVENNES VELAY THE D ONKEY, THE PACK, AND THE PACK-SADDLE THE GREEN D ONKEY-DRIVER I H AVE A GOAD UPPER GÉVAUDAN A C AMP IN THE D ARK C HEYLARD AND LUC OUR LADY OF THE SNOWS FATHER APOLLINARIS THE MONKS THE BOARDERS 183 188 195 167 177 143 149 158 UPPER GÉVAUDAN (continued) ACROSS THE GOULET A N IGHT AMONG THE PINES THE COUNTRY OF THE CAMISARDS ACROSS THE LOZÈRE PONT DE MONTVERT IN THE VALLEY OF THE TARN FLORAC IN THE VALLEY OF THE MIMENTE THE H EART OF THE C OUNTRY THE LAST D AY FAREWELL, MODESTINE! A MOUNTAIN TOWN IN FRANCE 203 206 213 218 224 234 237 241 248 253 257 EDINBURGH: PICTURESQUE NOTES CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTORY II. OLD TOWN: THE LANDS III. THE PARLIAMENT C LOSE IV. LEGENDS V. GREYFRIARS VI. N EW TOWN: TOWN AND C OUNTRY VII. THE VILLA QUARTERS VIII. THE C ALTON H ILL IX. WINTER AND N EW YEAR X. TO THE PENTLAND H ILLS 271 278 285 291 298 305 311 314 320 327 INTRODUCTION TO THE SWANSTON EDITION So much has been written on R. L. Stevenson, as a boy, a man, and a man of letters, so much has been written both by himself and others, that I can hope to add nothing essential to the world's knowledge of his character and appreciation of his genius. What is essential has been said, once for all, by Sir Sidney Colvin in "Notes and Introductions" to R. L. S.'s "Letters to His Family and Friends." I can but contribute the personal views of one who knew, loved, and esteemed his junior that is already a classic; but who never was of the inner circle of his intimates. We shared, however, a common appreciation of his genius, for he was not so dull as to suppose, or so absurd as to pretend to suppose, that much of his work was not excellent. His tale "Thrawn Janet" "is good," he says in a letter, with less vigour than but with as much truth as Thackeray exclaiming "that's genius," when he describes Becky's admiration of Rawdon's treatment of Lord Steyne, in the affray in Curzon Street. About the work of other men and novelists, or poets, we were almost invariably of the same mind; we were of one mind about the great Charles Gordon. "He was filled," too, "with enthusiasm for Joan of Arc," says his biographer, "a devotion, and also a cool headed admiration, which he never lost." In a letter he quotes Byron as having said that Jeanne "was a fanatical strumpet," and he cries shame on the noble poet. He projected an essay on the Blessed Maid, which is not in "the veniable part of things lost." Thus we were so much of the same sentiments, in so many ways, that I can hope to speak with sympathy, if not always with complete understanding, of Stevenson. Like a true Scot, he was interested in his ancestry, his heredity; regarding Robert Fergusson, the young Scottish poet, who died so young, in an asylum, as his spiritual forefather, and hoping to attach himself to a branch of the Royal Clan Alpine, the MacGregors, as the root of the Stevensons. Of Fergusson, he had, in early youth, the waywardness, the liking for taverns and tavern talk, the half-rueful appreciation of the old closes and wynds of Old Edinburgh, a touch of the recklessness and more than all the pictorial power which, in Fergusson, Burns so magnanimously admired. But genealogical research shows that Stevenson drew nothing from the dispossessed MacGregors, a clan greatly wronged, from Robert Bruce's day, and greatly given to wronging others. Alan Breck did not like "the Gregara," apart from their courage, and in Alan's day they were not consistent walkers. Stevenson, as far as one can learn, had no Celtic blood; none, at least, of traceable infusion: he was more purely Lowland than Sir Walter Scott. His paternal line could be traced back to a West Country Stevenson of 1675; probably a tenant farmer, who was contemporary with the Whig rising at Bothwell Bridge, with the murder of Archbishop Sharp, with Claverhouse, and Sir George Mackenzie, called "the bluidy Advocate." An earnest student of Mr. Wodrow's "History of the Sufferings," Louis did not find "James Stevenson in Nether Carsewell" among the many martyrs who live in the Libre d'Or of the Remnant. But he had "a Covenanting childhood;" his father, Mr. Thomas Stevenson, was loyal to the positions of John Knox (the theological positions); and, brought up in these, Louis had a taste, when the tenets of Calvin ceased to convince his reason, of what non-Covenanters endured at the hands of the godly in their day of power. Every little Presbyterian, fifty years ago, was compelled to be familiar with the Genevan creed, as expressed in "The Shorter Catechism," but most little Presbyterians regarded that document as a necessary but unintelligible evil —the sorrow that haunted the Sabbath. I knew it by rote, Effectual Calling and all, but did not perceive that it possessed either meaning or actuality. Nobody was so unkind as to interpret the significance of the questions and answers; but somebody did interpret them for Stevenson, or his early genius enabled him to discover what it is all about, as he told me once, and it seems that the tendency of the theology is terribly depressing. A happier though more or less theological influence on his childhood he found in the adventures and sufferings of the Covenanters. It is curious (and shows how much early education can do) that he never was a little Royalist: always his heart, like Lockhart's, which is no less strange, was with the true blue Remnant. I can remember no proof that he was fascinated by the greatness of Montrose. As is well known, at about the age of sixteen he perverted a romance of his own making, "Hackston of Rathillet" (a fanatic of Fife), into a treatise: "The Pentland Rising, a Page of History," published in 1866. One would rather have possessed the romance. Stevenson came from the Balfours of Pilrig, and was of gentle blood, on the spindle side. An ancestress of his mother was a granddaughter of Sir Gilbert Elliot (as a "law lord," or judge, Lord Minto), and so he could say: "I have shaken a spear in the debatable land, and shouted the slogan of the Elliots": perhaps "And wha dares meddle wi' me!" In "Weir of Hermiston" he returns to "the auld bauld Elliots" with zest. He was not, perhaps, aware that, through some remote ancestress on the spindle side, he "came of Harden's line," so that he and I had a common forebear with Sir Walter Scott, and were hundredth cousins of each other, if we reckon in the primitive manner by female descent. Of these Border ancestors, Louis inherited the courage; he was a fearless person, but one would not trace his genius to "The Bard of Rule," an Elliot named "Sweet Milk" who was slain in a duel by another minstrel, about 1627. Genius is untraceable; the granite intellect of Louis's great engineering forefathers, the Stevensons, was not, like his, tuneful: though his father was imaginative, diverting himself with daydreams; and his uncle, Alan Stevenson, the builder of Skerryvore, yielded to the fascinations of the religious Muse. A volume of verse was the pledge of this dalliance. His mother, who gave him her gay indifference to discomfort and readiness for travel, also read to him, in his childhood, much good literature; for not till he was eight years of age was he an unreluctant reader—which is strange. The whole record of his life, from his eighteenth month, is a chronicle of fever and ill-health, borne always with heroic fortitude. His dear nurse, Alison Cunningham, seems to have been a kind of festive Cameronian. Her recitation of hymns was, though she hated "the playhouse," "grand and dramatic." There is a hymn, "Jehovah Tsidkenu," in which he rejoiced; and no wonder, for the refrain "Jehovah Tsidkenu was nothing to me," moves with the galloping hoof-beats of "'Tis up wi' the bonnets o' Bonny Dundee!" I have, however, ascertained that this theological piece is not sung to the tune, "The cavalry canter of Bonny Dundee." When the experiment is made, the results are unspeakably strange. It need not be said, Stevenson has told us in verse and prose, that in childhood "his whole vocation was endless imitation." He was the hunter and the pirate and the king—throwing his fancy very seriously into each of his rôles, though visualizing never passed with him, as with some children it does, into actual hallucination. He had none of the invisible playmates that, to some children, are visible and real. He was less successful than Shelley in seeing apparitions: but the dreams which he communicated to Mr. Frederic Myers were curious illustrations of his subconscious activities—his Brownies, as he called them. They told him stories of which he could not foresee the end; one led up to a love affair forbidden even by exogamous law (with male descent and the sub- class system), and thus a fine plot was ruined. Throughout life, he always played his part, as in childhood, with full conscious and picturesque effect, as did the great Montrose and the English Admirals, in whom he notes this dramatic trait. He was not a poseur ; he was merely sensitively conscious of himself and of life as an art. As a little boy with curls and a velvet tunic, he read "Ministering Children," and yearned to be a ministering child. An opportunity seemed to present itself; the class of boys called "keelies" by the more comfortable boys in Edinburgh, used to play in the street under the windows of his father's house. One lame boy, a baker's son, could only look on. Here was a chance to minister! Louis, with a beating heart, walked out on his angelic mission. "Little boy, would you like to play with me?" he asked. "You go to ——!" was the answer of the independent son of the hardy baker. It is difficult to pass from the enchanted childhood of this eternal child, with its imaginative playing at everything, broken only by fevers whereof the dreams were the nightmares of unconscious genius. He has told of all this as only he could tell it. As a boy, despite his interrupted education, he laid the foundations of a knowledge of French and German, acquired Latin, and was not like that other boy who, Euclide viso, cohorruit et evasit. He was a mathematician! He never played cricket, I deeply regret to say, and his early love of football deserted him. He was no golfer, and a good day's trout-fishing, during which he neglected to kill each trout as it was taken, caused remorse, and made him abandon the contemplative boy's recreation. Boating, riding, and walking were his exercises. He read the good books that never lose their charm—Scott, Dumas, Shakespeare, "The Arabian Nights"; when very young he was delighted with "The Book of Snobs"; he also read Mayne Reid and "Ballantyne the Brave," and any story that contained Skeltica, cloaks, swords, wigs on the green, pirates and great adventures. He lived in literature, for Romance. His doings at Edinburgh University, and as a budding engineer, he has chronicled; he took part in snowball rows, in the debates of the Speculative Society, and in private dramatic performances, organized by his senior and friend, Professor Fleeming Jenkin. To "dress up" in old costumes always pleased him. He happened to praise the acting of a girl of fourteen, who, in her family circle, said, "Perhaps when I am old, like the lady in Ronsard, I will say 'R. L. Stevenson sang of me.'" His gambols "with the wild Prince and Poins" are not unrecorded. These were his Fergussonian years. Perhaps he might have expressed Burns's esteem for the "class of men called black-guards," as far as their unconventionality is concerned. He saw a great deal of life in many varieties; like Scott in Liddesdale, "he was making himsel' a' the time." With his cousin R. A. M. Stevenson, Walter Ferrier, Mr. Charles Baxter, and Sir Walter Simpson (a good golfer and not a bad bat), he performed "acts of Libbelism," and discussed all things in the universe. He was wildly gay, and profoundly serious, he had the earnestness of the Covenanter in forming speculations more or less unorthodox. It is needless to dwell on the strain caused by his theological ideals and those of a loving but sternly Calvinistic sire, to whom his love was ever loyal. These things bred melancholy, of necessity, and melancholy was purged by an almost unexampled interest, not in literature alone, but in the technique of style, and the construction of sentences and periods. Few of his confessions are better known than those on his apprenticeship in style to the great authors of the past. He gave himself up to the schools of Hazlitt, Lamb, Wordsworth, Sir Thomas Browne, Defoe, Hawthorne, Montaigne, Baudelaire, William Morris, and Obermann (De Senancour). This he did when he was aged about eighteen, when other lads are trying to write Latin prose like Cicero, or Livy, or Tacitus (Tacitus is the easiest to ape, in a way), and Latin verse like Ovid, or Horace, or Virgil. This they do because it is "part of the curricoolum," as the Scottish baronet said, of school and college. But I do not remember anecdotes of other boys with a genius for English prose who set themselves to acquire style before they deemed that they had anything in particular to say. In English essays at college a young fellow may be told by his tutor not to imitate Carlyle or Macaulay: the attempt to repeat the tones of Thackeray is most incident to youth. But to aim, like Stevenson while a student of Edinburgh University, at "the choice of the essential note and the right word," in exercises written for his own improvement, is a thing so original that it keeps me wondering. Like most of us, I have always thought, with Mr. Froude, when asked how he acquired his style, that a man sits down and says what he has to say, and there is an end of it. We must not write like Clarendon now, even if we could; our sentences must be brief. It would be affectation to write like Sir Thomas Browne, if we could; or like de Quincey; and nobody can write like Mr. Ruskin, when he is simple, or like the late Master of Balliol, Mr. Jowett. How far and how early Stevenson succeeded in the pursuit of style may be seen in his "Juvenilia": for example, in the essay on the Old Gardener. But one is inclined to think that he succeeded because he had a very keen natural perception of all things, was a most minute observer, knew what told in the matter of words, in fact, had a genius of his own; and that these graces came to him, though he says that they did not, by nature. He tells us how often he wrote and rewrote some of his chapters, some of his books. His prima cura we have not seen; perhaps it was as good as his most polished copy. "Prince Otto" has even seemed to me, in places, over-written. He now and then ran near the rock of preciosity, though he very seldom piled up his barque on that reef. His style is, to the right reader, a perpetual feast, "a dreiping roast," and his style cannot be parodied. I never saw a parody that came within a league of the jest it aimed at, save one burlesque of the deliberately stilted manner of his "New Arabian Nights." This triumph was achieved by Mr. Walter Pollock. Stevenson's manner was too appropriate to his matter for parody: for nobody could reproduce his matter and the vividness of his visualization. When his characters were Scots, Lowlanders or Highlanders, it seems to me that their style has no rival except in the talk of Sir Walter's countrymen. A minute student who knew Stevenson, has told me that he once suggested "chafts," where Louis had written "cheeks" or "jaws," and that the emendation was accepted, but his Scots always use "the right word," and never (in prose) say "tae" for "to," I think. Theirs is the good Scots. Perhaps I am biased in my doubt concerning the usefulness of his persistence in re-writing, by my regret that he destroyed so many of his romances, as not worthy of him. "King's chaff is better than other folk's corn" says our proverb. In his day, I bored him by pressing him to write more, and more rapidly; he never could have been commonplace, he never could have been less than excellent. But his conscience was adamant: no man was less of an improviser, as, fortunately, Scott was; had he not been, there would not be so many Waverley Novels. Stevenson was hard on Scott, who wrote much as he himself did in boyhood. "I forgot to say," remarks the early Stevensonian hero, after describing a day full of adventures with Red Indians, "that I had made love to a beautiful girl." There is a faint resemblance to this over-sight in a long sentence of "Guy Mannering," which Stevenson criticized; but "Guy Mannering" was written in about six weeks, "to refresh the machine." Fastidious himself, conscientious almost to a fault in style, Stevenson's joy was in the romances of Xavier de Montépin and Fortuné du Boisgobey, names which suggest "Old crusading knights austere, That bore King Louis company." When Dumas and Scott, and perhaps Mrs. Radcliffe, had been read too recently, Louis went to Fortuné and Xavier, and, doubtless, to the father of them, Gaboriau. None of these benefactors of the race was a student of style, but they gave him what Thackeray liked, stories "hot, with," as he says, briefly but adequately. All of us are led, like that ancient people Israel, like all humanity, by a way we know not, and a path we do not understand. If some benevolent genie, who understood Stevenson's qualities and genius, could have directed his career, how would that spirit have educated him? For some reason not intelligible he was put on an allowance of five shillings weekly, for his menus plaisirs, till he was twenty-three years of age. He never was an expensive man (except in giving, wherein he knew no stint); his favourite velvet coats, his yellow shoes, his black shirts, with a necktie of a scrap of carpet, he said (I failed to guess its nature), were not extravagant. (The last occasion on which I saw him in the legendary velvet coat was also the only moment in which I viewed the author of his being. The circumstances were of the wildest comedy, but the tale can never be told; though in all respects it redounds to the credit of everybody concerned. Not one of us let a laugh out of himself.) But a young man in his position likes to do many harmless things which cannot be done on five shillings a week, and so he sought the haunts of "thieves and chimney sweeps!" he says, and wrote sonnets in those shy retreats, which are known, perhaps, in Scotland, as "shebeens." Why "shebeens"? Is the word Gaelic misspelled? Cases of "shebeening" are tried before the Edinburgh magistrates, and as "my circle was being continually changed by the action of the police magistrates" (he says) conceivably his was a shebeening circle. Another lad of his age, some eighty years earlier, was partial, like him, to taverns and old clothes. "They be good enough for drinking in," said Walter Scott, when Erskine, or some other friend, ventured to remonstrate. Scott, like Stevenson, knew queer people, knew beggars—but had not one of them shaken hands with Prince Charles? Certainly, after Scott met Green Mantle, and sheltered her, as she came from church, under his umbrella (a piece of furniture which Stevenson can never have possessed), he left off his old clothes, and went into the best company. But R. L. S. did not delight in the good company of his native town; nor did he suffer gladly the conventional raiment of the evening hours. Green Mantle there was none, as far as we learn. He was not popular with the young Scots of his age, his biographer says so candidly; candidly have they said as much to me, yet they were good fellows. From childhood he had enjoyed all the indulgences of an only son, and an invalid; now he was "brought up short," and there were the religious disputes with a sire to whom he was devoted. The climate of his own romantic town (the worst in the world) was his foe; the wandering spirit in his blood called him to the south and the sun; he tells of months in which he had no mortal to whom he could speak freely, his cousin Bob being absent; he was unhappy; he was out of his milieu. What would the genie have done for him? Neither of the English Universities would have been to his taste; the rebel in him would have kicked at morning chapel, lectures, cap and gown, Proctors, the talk of "oars" and "bats"; manifestly Balliol was not the place for R. L. S., though he might have been happy with his contemporary John Churton Collins. He, I remember—even to the velvet coat—was like Stevenson, and was a rebel. Grant Allen, too, would have been his contemporary—the only man in Oxford who took to Herbert Spencer, whom Stevenson also read with much edification. Yet it is clear that Stevenson should not have been domiciled in the paternal mansion of Heriot Row. The genie might have transported him to a German University, perhaps to Heidelberg. Dis aliter visum , and the result, for us, is his matchless book on Edinburgh. To see a copy thereof is to take it up, and read through it again; it is better at every reading. In 1871 he broke to his father the news that the profession of engineering was not for him. The Scottish Bar (1874-1875) was not more attractive, and in 1873 his meeting with Mr. (now Sir) Sidney Colvin (then Slade Professor of Fine Art at Cambridge, and already well known as a critic), and with a lady, Mrs. Sitwell, to whom many of his most carefully written early letters are addressed, probably sealed Stevenson into the profession of literature. He has left this note on his prospects: "I think now, this 5th or 6th of April, 1873, that I can see my future life. I think it will run stiller and stiller year by year; a very quiet, desultorily studious existence. If God only gives me tolerable health, I think now I shall be very happy; work and science calm the mind and stop gnawing in the brain; and as I am glad to say that I do now recognise that I shall never be a great man, I may set myself peacefully on a smaller journey; not without hope of coming to the inn before nightfall.